Japanese art


Few are the arts that can reach a high level of refined delicacy through the centuries for the simple purpose of perfection. The Japanese art succeeds because of the momentum that has to get an aesthetic pleasure.


What is Japanese art?

Japanese art is all cultural and artistic expression made in the Japanese country for much of its history. His artistic is based on the predominance of the simple and harmonious. Give priority to aesthetic suggestion. Match beauty with harmony. It gives great importance to the man-nature link.


Characteristics of Japanese art

Japan is a very old country. Long before the outside world came into contact with this island, the Japanese country already had a rich culture loaded with mysteries and symbolism. Japan has, in fact, been a mystery to everyone. A mystery even for the Chinese and Koreans themselves, with whom they shared a border.


It can be said that it has been, in fact, an isolated country, apart from the great events of the world.

It should not be surprising, then, that his art has acquired a particular evolution.

But how to characterize it? How to distinguish your art from those of other countries?

The art Japanese to be understood, is the result of assimilation. Japan has been the result of constant immigration. Originally, many immigrants from the mainland came to the island and settled there. Along with their genetic loads, the immigrants brought their own cultural load. Ideas, concepts, thoughts about life, death and love were flowing on the island.

What was the result of all this? Well, an artistic expression based on the union of various manifestations. The art Japan gives priority to simplicity, to serenity and harmony. Hence, works of art can be appreciated that, rather than demonstrate, only suggest.


Historically, the Japanese island was not an island. It was part of the continent for several millennia before it broke away. By the time of their separation, the first settlers gave the first signs of identity to their art. However, it was with the arrival of the Malays, the Chinese and the Koreans that his art grew. It has had the opportunity to incorporate elements of Shinto and Buddhism over the generations. Out of the latter arose a syncretic whole that we know as the first Japanese art.


One could say that the country has gone through different stages. Each has represented a transformation in the political and social. The art of this country, as in the West, was largely due to the political and social interests of the time. Here are some of the historical stages crossed by the Japanese country :

  • Jomon period: characterized by the first artistic manifestations. It is an archaic art.
  • Yayoi period: characterized by the implantation of Shintoism and the first artistic expressions based on it.
  • Kofun Period: Distinguished as the beginning of Imperial Japan.
  • Asuka period: which marks the arrival of Buddhism on the island. Sculptures and works with this theme began to be made.
  • Nara period: in which the Chinese influence in the arts is seen. Monumental constructions in the style of the neighboring country began to be built.
  • Heian period: which is marked by a diplomatic break with China. Art begins to become independent of the Chinese style, and to acquire a slightly more Japanese way.

Among many other periods of Japanese history.

Types of Japanese art

It could be said that Japanese art is full of styles and forms of manifestation. It is not a culture lacking in expressive resources. Quite the contrary, over the centuries it has sought to diversify and expand its horizons. Here are some of the artistic expressions of contemporary Japanese:

  • Literature: this has a strong influence from Chinese. Like the rest of the arts, Japanese literature has been subject to the influences of foreign cultures. The Japanese writing itself, in fact, can be seen as a derivative of Chinese.
  • Music: which has used, especially since the Edo period, traditional instruments such as the shamisen, shakuachi and the koto .
  • Theater: Japanese theater has always stood out for the combination of different styles. It is common to see in him a staging of historical or mythological events. His style usually incorporates musical and dramatic elements that tend towards gestures and dance, to the point that they are little distinguished from the traditional dance rituals of the nation.
  • Cinema: which is one of the most recent artistic expressions. It was incorporated at the end of the 19th century, and since then, it has not ceased to follow the syncretic tradition of the country. One of its main exponents is, in fact, Akira Kurosawa. The latter’s work is recognized as one of the most important in world cinematography .

Traditional japanese art

Despite its long history, traditions in Japan today are still valid. Many Japanese today continue with some of their ancient practices. It is a form of preservation somewhat similar to what Europeans do for their own arts. Some of the traditional practices of this country are:

  • Bunraku, or the art of theater through puppets.
  • The Japanese tea ceremony .
  • Origami, or the art of folding paper.
  • Shodo, or the art of calligraphy from this country.

Modern japanese art

The contemporary art in this country has received constant influence of the West. This order of influences has reached such a point that the Japanese themselves divided their arts into two: traditions and modern ones. Among the modern ones, we can see the technological, architectural, cinematographic and musical works born in the Japanese country. Its influence is such that it has managed to be exported to other countries outside the continent.

Japanese floral art

Also called Ikebana, flower art in Japan is a very old tradition. It has its influences in Buddhism, and is deeply rooted in respect for the relationship between man and nature.

Japanese minimalist art

In Japan, there is an expression known as Ma. It is mostly a lifestyle perspective . It consists of the preference for the minimum, for the absence of decorations. Much of the Japanese arts are marked by this style.


  • White plums in spring, by Ogata Korin.
  • Landscape, by Sesshu Toyo.
  • God of Wind , God of Thunder, by Ogata Korin.


  • Naraen-Kengo Buddhist Guardian.
  • Yukushi Niorai and his acolyte Nikko.


  • Todai-hee.
  • Horyu-hee.
  • To-hee.
  • Himeji Castle.
  • Katsura Imperial Villa.

Importance of Japanese art

It is one of the most representative artistic expressions of the East. One could say that, among all of them, it is the one that stands out the most for its minimalist design. Its importance stands out for allowing it to transcend other sectors of the West, and allowing them to know something about Japanese culture.


The main representatives of Japanese art are:

  • Akira Kurosawa.
  • Yukio Mishima.
  • Kenzo Tange.
  • Arata Izozaki.


Among the different works of Japanese art we highlight the following:

  • Genji’s Novel (Literature).
  • The Great Wave off Kanagawa (Painting).
  • Itsukushima Shrine (Architecture).

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